Before going into the descriptive and anecdotal details of this adventure that is a trip in a dala-dala, let me first give you a short ‘definition’ of it.
A dala-dala is the cheapest way of transport that can exist in Tanzania – even all around Africa I guess; well, after walking, but waaay before the pikie-pikie (= motorcycle taxis) or taxis! If I had to describe this vehicle, I would say that it’s a simple minibus. But wait for it! Far away the idea that these are brand new and in perfect condition vehicles! Most of the time, you could see, feel and hear that they’ve been traveling; some are even on the border of a public danger. They could be in such a state that you couldn’t imagine traveling more than fifteen minutes in it… Weeeelll YES!! I have spent so many hours – ok only an hour each way; COMFORTABLY sited (or not), with all the space I need for my legs and my body (or not ), with a good support for the back (or not), with always a seat waiting for me (or not) and never in company of our friends the animals, fruits and vegetables (ahh yeaah I forgot market days!).
If we always complain in Europe about the delays of our public transportations; well a dala-dala DOES NOT leave the terminal before being TOTALLY filled- which means wait between 10 minutes to 1 hour.
And if we complain that they are always too full; well a dala-dala is NEVER too full. No more seating place? Well you tighten a little, there is much room for 4 people in there (all size included). You think there is still no more space? Well it remains standing room (well I mean leaning, it is just impossible to be totally up); at worst, there is still room for clinging to the windows or the door, at least there is no risk of stifling hot ^^
What is certain, this joyous way of transport is a real meeting place, a social cohesion – from the youngest to the oldest; and the mood is always there – between chatter, laugh or fight for the price, the delay or anything we can accuse to the condo. For the price of 1000tsh ~ 0.50 euros; for at least an hour on the road, I would never change transportation to go every day to my workplace. Each trip is a new adventure, history, encounter!